The Many Deeds of Cory Weeds

Cory Weeds: tenor saxophone, Joey Defrancesco: b3 organ, Chris Davis: trumpet, Byron Wookie Landham: drums

Vancouver’s do-it-all jazz strongman Cory Weeds is at it again, playing tenor on a live CD recorded for his jazz label at the jazz club that he runs.

As Weeds, 36, has said himself, he puts much more stock in affirming jazz tradition, swing and soulfulness than in being a stylistic maverick or jazz-language innovator. Nor is Weeds expending any energy composing material for the gig when themes by Horace Silver (Juicy Lucy, which opens the disc) and Hank Mobley (Fin de L’Affaire, Boss Bossa), among others, get the job done just fine. So, true to form, his live disc is a organ-based quartet date in the classic hard-bop mold, with no-nonsense blowing vehicles aplenty leavened by some gospel, funk, a ballad, and a bossa.

Questions of material and style aside, the execution of the music on Weeds’ disc is quite good to excellent. I like Weeds big sound and big beat that make the music feel really good on the opener, Juicy Lucy. I’m reminded of Dexter Gordon, in a good way. Weeds is a fluent, confident soloist throughout, and he has the idiomatic language at his fingertips to testify on Brad Turner’s funky Goin’ Down and the Mercy, Mercy, Mercy-ish closer, Roofin’ It. His frontline partner, trumpeter Chris Davis, is a tart, sassy foil.

To my ears, the scene-stealing excellence on Weeds’ disc is provided by the esteemed rhythm pair of organist Joey DeFrancesco and his right-hand drummer Byron Landham. The two Americans ensure that the music grooves without fail. I had the disc playing in my car this week, and people in the other lanes must have been gawking as my head swayed non-stop.

DeFrancesco, of course, is a world-class organist. His solos simply leap out of the mix with their brilliance and exuberance. He also ought to be paid double given the quality of his left-hand bassline work, whether he’s walking or syncopating like a funk freak.

Weeds surely must have felt that raised his game playing with an inspiring jazz monster like DeFrancesco, and I hope he won’t mind if I say that DeFrancesco and Landham lift his CD from solid and likeable to deeply enjoyable.

– Peter Hum Ottawa Citizen

For all his accomplishments — running a Vancouver jazz club for a decade, managing a successful jazz label, hosting a radio show — it’s easy to forget that Cory Weeds is also a fine jazz saxophonist. I’ve always heard him on the alto sax, but on his latest CD he plays tenor throughout, sounding at home with the larger horn. Fronting a quartet that includes Hammond B3 organ master Joey DeFrancesco, the organist’s drummer Byron Landham, and Weeds’s fellow Vancouverite Chris Davis on trumpet, Weeds blazes through eight songs before a receptive audience at the Cellar (now called Cory Weeds’ Jazz Cellar). Whether swinging hard on Horace Silver’s Juicy Lucy, laying down a boogaloo rhythm on Brad Turner’s Goin’ Down, or bopping hard on Bill Weeds’s Corner Kisses, the band digs in and never lets go. On the Hank Mobley song Fin de l’Affaire, his tenor takes the melody, improvising on the line, then putting together a solo that carries you along with him.

– Marke Andrews, Vancouver Sun

Not only does he run a jazz label and the best mainstream jazz club on the west coast of Canada, Cory Weeds is also one gutsy tenor player. Able to bring off those feel-good riffs we’ve heard Hank Mobley and Stanley Turrentine deliver, as on Mobley’s “Boss Bossa,” Weeds can knit together motifs with the uncanny nonchalance of a Dexter Gordon too. On Many Deeds, he’s thermonuclear powered, with the presence of ringer Joey DeFrancesco, an organist whose indomitable chops deliver powerhouse lines with magnificent gusto. Another Mobley tune, ballad “Fin de l’Affaire,” finds Weeds demonstrating old-school finesse. Trumpeter Chris Davis plugs in his harmon mute for that haunting intimacy the mute can bring out in the hands of a skilled, sensitive musician like Weeds’s frontline partner. Recorded live at Weeds’s club The Cellar and released on his label, Many Deeds shows three aspects of Weeds’s can-do work ethic. Club owner, label director and jazz musician, Cory Weeds is the kind of proactive guy Canada’s music scene needs more of. Long may he do his thing(s). (Cellar Live)”

– Glen Hall, Exclaim Magazine

Cory Weeds, the busiest jazz musician in the industry is behind the mixing board once again playing tenor sax on a live CD recorded at his Vancouver jazz club. A professional musician for nearly 15 years his non-stop-do-a-bit-of-everything musician continues to delight, astound and produce top notch jazz.

Weeds, 36 and now a family man, and his quartet (led by the Hammond B3 organ played by Joey DeFrancesco) play soulful swinging jazz with a bit of funk, bossa nova and a smidge of traditional gospel.

Opening track on the album “Juicy Lucy” certainly defies you to not tap your toes, jive and sway your head in time with the music. The album’s energy continues to flow into the second track “Goin Down” where DeFrancesco takes over. It is certainly apparent to me, after hearing him make the B3 organ sing why Joey’s claim to be the finest jazz organist on the planet is spot on real.

The remaining six tracks on the CD carry on in the same exceptional, finely tuned body swaying jazz that ends up with one of my favourites “Roofin’ It”. Without a doubt this is one of the best jazz quartets I’ve heard in a long time with Cordy Weeds on tenor sax, Chris Davis on trumpet, Joey DeFrancesco on organ and Byron Landham on drums. I would crawl over crushed glass to get a front row seat to hear this group perform at anytime.

The material and execution on this disc is superb. Weeds and the rest of the quartet produce a big sound with an astoundingly laid beat that make you not only hear the music but feel the soul, passion and love of jazz.

Weeds has now set the bar even higher for himself utilizing the talents of DeFrancesco, Landham and Davis and hope that future endeavours together result in the same high quality as on The Many Deeds of Cory Weeds. This is certainly an exceptionally worthy addition to anyone’s jazz collection.

– Dave Ferguson, Earshot Magazine